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Middle East

Israel Releases 256 Palestinian Prisoners

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (center) welcomes some of the 256 prisoners released from Israeli prisons. Omar Rashidi/Getty Images hide caption

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Omar Rashidi/Getty Images

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (center) welcomes some of the 256 prisoners released from Israeli prisons.

Omar Rashidi/Getty Images

Israel on Friday released more than 250 Palestinian prisoners in an effort to bolster support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Almost all of the 256 low security prisoners are members of Abbas' Fatah movement. Many of them fell to their knees and kissed the ground after they passed through an Israeli checkpoint and their handcuffs were removed.

Abbas is engaged in a power struggle with the Islamic militants of Hamas, who used force to seize control of Gaza last month.

Israel still holds more than 9,000 prisoners in its prisons, and the issue remains a serious matter of contention. However, Israeli officials and members of Abbas' government hope the release wll mark a new era of cooperation.